Skydiving, going on an African safari, seeing the Northern Lights — all iconic life experiences that top the bucket lists of most travelers. For many, spending the night in a hotel made of ice is just as sought-after. Returning for the 2019 season, Sweden’s Icehotel offers the ideal stay for igloo-loving travelers.
For its 29th season, the aptly named Icehotel 29 is back with 15 creatively designed rooms hand-carved by 34 artists representing more than a dozen countries. Each room features an artistic theme including everything from an icy aquarium to a giant candy shop to a wooded outdoor scene complete with glowing campfire and life-sized VW bus. No two rooms are alike, so every guest is guaranteed a unique suite.
Every year, the hotel is reborn from scratch, with construction work starting as early as March. More than 2,500 tons of snow and ice are brought in from the nearby Torne River. After harvesting, the frozen mass is stored for months before work begins later in the year. Each season, a new round of artists is commissioned to build every frozen detail of the Icehotel. This includes not only the guest suites but the common areas like a ceremonial wedding hall, event spaces, lobby, and the pièce de résistance — a stunning ice bar that includes ice-crystal chandeliers, plus plates, bowls, and glasses all carved from ice.
The seasonal Icehotel is no doubt the “big get” for travelers as it’s the most creative and visually interesting. Following insane demand, however, Sweden launched Icehotel 365 on the same grounds. This permanent installation allows visitors to stay in more buttoned-down, “traditionally” designed (if there is such a thing) ice rooms. Every suite features bespoke ice sculptures, while deluxe suites upgrade to showers or bathtubs, plus personal saunas.
Every year, tens of thousands of Icehotel guests and visitors flock to the tiny Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi for its breathtaking Arctic scenery. The surrounding landscape is awash in frozen lakes, endless stands of fir trees, and, of course, lots and lots of reindeer. It’s the perfect setting to trek a few dozen miles by dogsled in the morning, followed by a legit Arctic survival course in the afternoon. There are plenty of additional cold weather activities including snowmobiling, guided winter hikes, and ice sculpting classes.
This season’s Icehotel is open until April 13, 2019. Based on double occupancy, room rates range from SEK 1,549 (approximately USD $171) for an indoor, hotel-style “warm room” to SEK 2,354 (USD $260) for a one-of-a-kind ice room.